Calgary

Tsuut'ina chief hopes traditional dinner, tour will build bridges with Calgary neighbours

The Tsuut'ina First Nation welcomed Calgary-area business and community leaders on Thursday for a traditional dinner and guided tour of the Nation's current and future development plans.

Chief Lee Crowchild said the evening was about breaking down barriers

Chief Lee Crowchild (Julie Debeljak/CBC)

The Tsuut'ina First Nation welcomed Calgary-area business and community leaders on Thursday for a traditional dinner and guided tour of the Nation's current and future development plans.

"We're taking the initiative here. With the council that's sitting at these tables, with the elders and that, we all know we have a responsibility to engage and break down those barriers," said Chief Lee Crowchild.

"Far too long it's been about polarizing ideas, about native versus non-native, and those ideas have to be passed into history."

The tour took guests along the outskirts of the 82,000-acre reserve, driving past the southwest ring road corridor, Weaselhead Natural Area and the future site of the multibillion-dollar Taza development, including the planned location of a new sportsplex and hospital. 

Attendees at the dinner had a chance to meet with Tsuut'ina elders. (CBC)

Taza is a three-part development. The first, Taza Park, will be a mixed recreation, entertainment and residential destination, including a walkable street for shopping and dining, a cycle track and a new park.

The second, Taza Crossing, will be filled commercial and tech businesses with a focus on health and wellbeing. Tour attendees learned that the site, which was initially pitched as part of a local application for Amazon's new headquarters, will have therapeutic and healing clinics.

Taza Exchange, the third area, will focus on tourism, with the Tsuut'ina Nation Cultural Museum and the new Seven Chiefs Sportsplex.

Visitors also drove past historic sites on the First Nation, and the tour was followed by a dinner where elders visited each table to discuss the Nation's history and culture.

University of Calgary President Elizabeth Cannon. (CBC)

Among those who accepted the invitation was University of Calgary President Elizabeth Cannon.

"It's fabulous to be here and really I'm here to learn and meet new people and gain a further appreciation for our neighbours," she said, adding that the evening included talks that were a "mix of the history of the lands but really how that's fuelling the vision for the future."

There were no members of city council in attendance, but the tables at the dinner were full. 

Crowchild said there are plans to host two more dinners and tours that will take guests further into the First Nation.

"This is the front of who we are but to really know our community you have to know our schools and our youth," Crowchild said.

With files from Dave Will, Julie Debeljak

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